For the purposes of this article, I am using Fetishist and practitioners of BDSM interchangeably. This is not always the case but in this instance it applies to the BDSM community and fetishist feels like a better word than Domme, sub, Dom, slave, puppy, Owner, Mistress, ... the list goes on. Thus fetishist as the term used here.
It’s interesting. There seems to have always been a certain animosity between swingers and fetishists. Even with a rather significant overlap in behaviours. I was at the swingers’ baths the other night and as usually was having a wonderful time. While I do not see myself as a swinger, it is not really something I participate in, I always enjoy being there. I blame the water 😉 A girlfriend and I were talking about the quasi feud that there seems to be between the two cultures. My friend has been into BDSM longer than I have, and though not currently part of the scene, she was for a long time.
What is it about these two cultures that causes the friction? Swingers and fetishists have a lot in common. Both are seen as deviant behaviour, counter culture. They have their own clubs and gatherings. They have their own rules and behavioural expectations. What is it that keeps them apart?
To figure this out, I went back in time to my first encounter with the notions of swingers and fetishists. The BDSM community is BIG on consent, and if they are not, stay away, but a discussion for another time. Consent is a massive part of the BDSM lifestyle. Why? Because you are electing to either cause or receive pain. This is one of the few places where consent is utilized properly. Where as swingers, without the aspect of pain see consent as a given. Not necessarily a given but they tend to see consent in a way that is comparable to the way the rest of society sees it. It is assumed consent is there.
While I do not feel that my experiences within the swinger baths showed a violation of consent, or that anyone was indulging in something that went beyond what was consensual, there were also no discussions about it. No active informed consent, no consent discussions, no debating or negotiating. The consent was assumed.
Maybe this is key to why the two communities seem at odds. I have to admit, coming from the background I do, my ideals, my views, the lack of these consent discussions were a little shocking. More so when you take into account the consuming of alcohol. What can I say, different strokes. The swinger culture has a sense of freedom that I can’t help but covet. Is it for me? Absolutely not. Could it be in the future? Who knows, sexuality is fluid. The BDSM community has structure, roles, rules and regulations, consent. For now, my sexuality swings (pun totally intended) more toward BDSM and likely always will.